BOULDER – Coach Chris Petersen and his Washington Huskies have moved on from a 41-10 rout of Colorado in the Pac-12 title game last season.
It’s no longer a thing.
That’s not the case on the other side, where coach Mike MacIntyre and the Buffaloes (3-0) remain very much motivated by the loss heading into their rematch against No. 7 Washington (3-0) on Saturday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
“I’m pretty sure the kids that played in the game last year definitely have to be thinking about that,” the Colorado coach said. “If they didn’t, they’re not really competitors.”
Saying this is all about revenge, though, is too strong, Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver said. Rather, this is simply a chance to take a step forward in getting back to the conference championship. While Washington was a preseason favorite to repeat as the North Division champion, the Buffaloes were predicted to finish in the middle of the pack in the south.
“We’re not really looking at it as a big game against Washington. We’re looking at it as a big game in the Pac-12 as a whole,” Oliver said. “All of the guys are fired up and ready to go.”
The Huskies aren’t giving what happened in the title game a second thought, because “last year is last year,” running back Myles Gaskin said.
“I’m sure we’ll watch a little bit of film to get schemes and stuff,” Gaskin added. “But there are different guys playing out there so it will be a different game.”
MacIntyre believes the Huskies may be even a better than a year ago when they took advantage of third-quarter interceptions to turn a 14-7 game into a breeze. So far this season, Washington has outscored teams by a 141-37 margin behind the play of quarterback Jake Browning and punt returner Dante Pettis, who’s returned a kick for a TD in all three games this season.
“I’ve been impressed with how they’re clicking and how they’re doing in every phase,” MacIntyre said.
All part of the process for Washington.
“I’ve said this many times: the lessons that we’ve learned, good and bad, from last year’s season, we always want that to carry over so we can learn,” Petersen said. “But this is a completely new season, early in the year, completely different energies and rhythms. Away we go and now we start the hard part of our season.”
Things to know as the Huskies have won seven straight in the series:
RECORD RETURNS: Pettis will be looking to break an NCAA record against the Buffs. Pettis has eight career punt return touchdowns, tied for the most in NCAA history. The Buffs know all too well the skills of Pettis – his first career punt return TD was against Colorado in 2014.
RUN GAME: With the return of Gaskin, Lavon Coleman and the addition of Salvon Ahmed, the Huskies were expected to run through their first three opponents. It hasn’t happened yet. The Huskies are averaging 129.7 yards per game on the ground. “We’re winning games so it doesn’t really matter,” Gaskin said.
CONFERENCE OPENERS: Petersen and Pac-12 openers haven’t exactly gone well. In 2014 and 2015, the Huskies stumbled at home against Stanford and California. Last year, the Huskies were pushed to overtime at Arizona before beating the Wildcats.
ASKING FOR MORE: The last time Colorado started the season 4-0 was 1998 and coach Rick Neuheisel was in his last season in Boulder before leaving for Washington. Still, MacIntyre hears how his team hasn’t looked sharp in the nonconference portion of the schedule. “My wife was teasing me about that the other day. She said, ‘A few years ago we’d just be happy if we won!’” MacIntyre said. “It shows that we’re at a different level as far as the expectations are concerned.”
HIGH PRAISE: MacIntyre went up against Petersen when he was at San Jose State and Petersen at Boise State. Petersen’s Washington squads seem built from the same blueprint he used for all those dynamic Boise State teams. “They just changed the uniforms from orange to purple,” MacIntyre cracked. “He’s got really good players and they do a good job.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.